Seabed mining hearing set to begin
March 10, 2014
The Greens want a moratorium on seabed mining ahead of an environmental hearing to decide whether to allow mining of iron ore off the Taranaki coast.
TransTasman Resources (TTR) wants to hoover up iron ore-bearing sands off the sea floor in a 65.76 square kilometre area, 22-36km offshore from the south Taranaki town of Patea, processing around 50 million tonnes a year of material over 20 years.
It has triggered the first Environmental Protection Authority public hearing under new Exclusive Economic Zone law, a hearing due to start in Wellington today.
Just 11 of the 4702 submissions support the proposal, and Green Party oceans spokesman Gareth Hughes says he hopes the commissioners take on board the wishes of New Zealanders.
“New Zealanders want the Government to take a precautionary approach to sea bed mining, but Energy Minister Simon Bridges has already come out backing the proposal,” he said.
“The Green Party would impose a moratorium on sea bed mining until it was proved unequivocally safe.”
He said New Zealand should follow the 2012 lead of Australia’s Northern Territory, which imposed a moratorium to undertake more research into the impacts.
If approved, TTR will seek up to half a billion dollars in new capital towards the middle of this year to create a new iron ore export industry.
Though the vast majority of submitters opposed the plan, opinion was more divided among fishing companies.
The Federation of Commercial Fishers and fishing company Talleys were opposed, but Sanford and the part-owner of the Sealord fishing company, Te Ohu Kaimoana (Maori Fisheries Trust), supported the application with conditions.
Gareth Hughes appeared on Firstline this morning to discuss seabed mining – watch the video.